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MLK Unity Breakfast to honor Reese, Doyle

The last two members of the “Courageous Eight” that are still in Selma will be honored at the Martin Luther King Jr. Unity Breakfast on Monday.

The Selma chapter of The Links Inc. will present the program for the 16th year and honor the Rev. F.D. Reese and Ernest L. Doyle.

Both men were part of the eight-person steering committee of the Dallas County Voters League, which fought against racial injustice in Selma in the 1960s.

“It’s designed to promote peace and harmony in the Selma-Dallas County area,” Nancy G. Sewell, president of The Links, said of the annual breakfast. “What better time to do it than on the (celebration) of Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday?”

Doyle was the first black man elected to the Selma City Council and also served as the first black city magistrate.

He said the “need to raise the quality of life and leadership for African Americans” drove him to run for city council in the early 1970s.

Reese, now pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church, had served as president of the Dallas County Voters League. He marched with King during the confrontation with police prior to the Selma to Montgomery March in 1965. He now serves as president of the Selma to Montgomery National Historic Trail Association.

The breakfast is 7:30 a.m. at the Carl C. Morgan Convention Center, and tickets are $15. They can be purchased by calling 875-2481 or 874-8426.

The speaker this year is the Rev. Effell Williams, pastor of Tabernacle of Praise Church. Mayor George Evans is scheduled to speak, and the Selma High Ensemble will perform.

The event is the only fundraiser of the year for The Links, according to member Joan Roussell.

The group uses the money raised donate to donate to community projects. This year $500 will go to both the Brown YMCA branch and the Bosco Nutrition Center. The Links will also fund two college scholarships for local high school seniors.

“This is one of those events that usually brings the community together in the sense that we have young and we have seasoned citizens. We’re including the youth groups that we’re working with this year,” said Juanda Maxwell. “We try to bring the community together, both black and white.”